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Repression of homosexuals in Chechnya escalates further


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On-going reports that gay men are being aggressively targeted in Chechnya have reached new and shocking heights. Russian newspapers have reported that men are being rounded up on the grounds of having “non-traditional sexual orientation” and imprisoned in concentration camps.

Pictured above: Vladimir Putin on a state visit to Chechnya

Chechnya has a long history of instability and conflict along both ethnic and nationalistic lines. This latest divisive fault line has resulted in the imprisonment of over 100 homosexual men, many of whom have been tortured as authorities reportedly attempted to force them to reveal the locations of other gay men.

Reports indicate that so far at least three of the men in question have been killed by the Chechen authorities.

Chechnya is a Muslim-majority region of Russia; while it has its own government and President it is essentially beholden to Russia as a federal subject state.

Ali Karimov, speaking on behalf of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, argued that are no homosexuals in Chechnya. The spokesperson insisted: “If there were such people in Chechnya, law-enforcement agencies wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning”.

Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch had this to say:

“A brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya. Law enforcement and security agency officials… have rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, torturing and humiliating the victims.

“Some of the men have forcibly disappeared. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began.

“In light of brutal repression in Chechnya, we cannot reveal our sources for fear of compromising their security. The fear of devastating reprisal is so intense that we cannot even provide detail on specific cases as the victims could suffer even more as a result of the exposure.

While coverage is lacking in detail emergent coverage is, in itself, an important step, as the repression of gay Chechen citizens has gone largely un-reported. Hopefully a growing media swell will force the Kremlin into action.

While a spokesman for Putin stated that reports would be investigated, the Russian authorities seem to lack motivation in terms of pursuing a rigorous investigative process.

Meanwhile state-imposed fear in Chechnya keeps citizens from speaking out, as Tanya Lokshina notes: “Filing an official complaint against local security officials is extremely dangerous, as retaliation by local authorities is practically inevitable.” 

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